Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Freedom From The Press

We must be allowed to report freely, says the editorial in today's Gold Coast Bulletin, after a trial was aborted and the judge agreed to have the case heard in Gladstone because of biased and sensational coverage in the Gold Coast Bulletin.

Funnily enough, the story deemed worthy enough for a page 4 in its print edition, is not to be found in its online edition.

And indeed that is true. The cornerstone of any true democracy is freedom of the press and this is something that this blog supports whole heartedly.

But there is a proviso - that expectation of, if not right to, that freedom comes with the responsibility to use that liberty wisely.

Sadly over the past 10 years the Gold Coast Bulletin has not used that liberty well.

It has turned from a fair to middling regional newspaper to a second-rate sensationalist tabloid where lines between straight reportage and 'outrage' sensationalism have blurred to the point non-existence.

The faux outrage on its front pages with respect to real and perceived slights against the city have earned the paper the nickname of The Gold Coast Hysterical and is an embarassment to the locals.

Its pages cheapens its young female reporters by making them reveal the minutae of their lives as the Go Girls or, more recently the Play Girls.

How can you take, for instance, a court reporter seriously when she's spent the past five years of her life bemoaning everything from poorly fitting bras, humungous hangovers and leering after hot guys.

The Gold Coast Bulletin gleefully reports on the binge-drinking antics of Schoolies and wonders why Surfers Paradise has a poor reputation.

It attempts to titillate with bikini pictures more suitable for lads mags and wonders why families appear unwelcome in the city.

It plays partisan politics and then wonders why the same lame duck council gets returned.

It slags off at other cities and then wonders why the Gold Coast has a poor reputation interstate.

By all means report freely, Gold Coast Bulletin, but know that you do so only under the condition that you report soberly, seriously and sensibily - attributes sadly lacking in its news pages for a very long time.

-- Nora

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